We are amidst the hottest, lushest time of the year. The time of year when tomatoes begin to ripen, berries are picked fresh from their vine, and zucchini plants produce with a vengeance some come to resent.
Juice drips from a peach so ripe it is shocking. Children gobble up cucumbers and peppers as snacks in our home and you can bet the farmer’s market is bursting at the seams.
And if you’re not careful one day soon you will wake up and realize you missed out on the year’s best. Berries will no longer be in season and tomatoes will not be this fresh and abundant until next year.
What you want to do is preserve all of this bounty, stop time in the garden and on your plate. Not only will you eat better, tastier, and healthier; but you will also save yourself a boatload of money… if you can do it right.
Finding Inexpensive Produce
Grow your own. The buck stops in your own garden. With very little space or even containers you can grow a fair amount of your favorite produce. This is the absolute most economical way to spend a little time and reap a (free!) harvest.
Local farmer. If you’re not able to become your own farmer yet, head to localharvest.org and find one in your area. Hit them up at the local market or head on out to their land.
Pick your own. One way to save money is to do some of the labor yourself. Head to pickyourown.org and find farms in your area that will let you come out and pick various fruits and vegetables at a deep discount.
How to Preserve It
Canning. This is one of the most common methods of preserving food today. And while it can be familiar and seemingly safe, it also requires a lot of upfront cost in jars and energy, and longer term costs in the continual purchasing of lids and continual energy needed to boil the water and pressure can the jars.
Freezing. This is possibly the easiest means of food preservation, but still a big energy hog. Plus, if you want to preserve abundantly then you will need to invest in a large chest freezer.
Drying. Dehydrated foods might sound strange and intimidating, but this is how many historical populations preserved food. Drying means that no harmful bugs can make their way into your food. They are easily rehydrated either by soaking overnight or by simply adding them to a long-simmered stew or soup.
Lacto-Fermenting. My favorite means of food preservation; fermentation is easy, cheap, and adds nutrients to your preserved foods whereas canning can completely obliterate them.
So now is the time to seize the day, grow or find that bushel of tomatoes, and get to preserving. You’d be surprised how much money you may save and how much fulfillment you will get out of the task of preserving your own food.